Friday, June 8, 2012

Corpus Christi is Not Only in Texas (and I'm So Glad)

Yesterday, as I mentioned yesterday, was Corpus Christi. Sevilla is one of the few cities in Spain that celebrates the holiday on its original date, 60 days after Easter Sunday. Once again, all the brotherhoods in the city participated, this time in one long, slow procession. It began just before 8:30 with guards and musicians marching to the Cathedral.

AT THE SOUTH END OF PLAZA DE SAN FRANCISCO. HEADING TO THE CATHEDRAL.

I then heard glorious organ music from within the Cathedral, followed by the powerful ringing of all the bells of the Giralda, which I was able to watch from below. That was inspiring. I was told the procession is traditionally led from the Cathedral by six children carrying hatchets. I'm grateful to SOONKS (see the comments below) for explaining that to me. Someone had done a literal translation of the words hachas or hachones into the English word, hatchets. What is really meant by that is the long candles they carry (which as you can see in the photo are different from the unadorned long candles carried by the brotherhoods.

NOT REALLY "HATCHETS." HACHAS OR HACHONES.

Following the boys with hatchas are statues or relics representing famous saints and events in Sevillano and Catholic history. Each image is followed by a brotherhood (in order of longevity). I stood (with all my aches and pains from my battle with the bed) for about two-and-a-half hours. I'm very glad I took the time to be there.

SANTA ANGELA DE LA CRUZ.
(FOUNDER OF THE BROTHERHOOD OF THE CROSS)

The oldest record of this event in Sevilla is from 1428. In 1532, the procession began to take the route it still takes today — 480 years later. (By comparison, I once worked in the same place for 5-1/2 consecutive years; but I changed my commuting route regularly because I desperately needed some kind of change.) They processed through nearby streets and the celebration continued with a large event in Plaza de San Francisco. I instead went and met Jerry for breakfast.

SANTA JUSTA AND SANTA RUFINA, BOTH OF SEVILLA.
(FLANKING A BEAUTIFUL BRONZE REPLICA OF THE GIRALDA.)

BISHOP ISIDORE (SAN YSIDRO) OF SEVILLA.

BISHOP LEANDER (SAN LEANDRO) OF SEVILLA.

I didn't follow the procession along its entire route; I simply stayed in the vicinity of the Cathedral until I saw the statue of King Ferdinand III of Castille (San Geraldo's 22-greats grandfather, which I'm sure you remember by now). It looked to me like that was the end of the procession, but I've since read that there are four other relics that process. I don't now if they were simply mixed in with what I had already seen or if they actually followed San Leandro. Maybe I'll find out next year.

GREATS-GRANDPA KING FERDINAND III — SAN FERNANDO EL REY.
(WRAPPED, JUST FOR THE OCCASION, IN HIS ERMINE CAPE.)

It was fascinating to compare the dress and comportment of the different brotherhoods — from oldest to newest. The earlier groups were dressed consistently and formally. Later groups were at times very casual. The last brotherhood I saw included teens in jeans and chinos, with obviously no previous discussion about an overall look for the group. A very early and prominent brotherhood was led by men (including a lawyer we know) in formal morning suits.

SENSIBLE SHOES? SOME OF THE BROTHERHOOD MEMBERS AS THEY MARCHED. 

The streets were strewn with sprigs of a variety of evergreens. It smelled luscious but was obviously not easy to walk on. The women marchers in some of the brotherhoods wore matching, and practical, low-heeled shoes. Later women were decked out in very trendy heels. Some bordered on "Joan Crawfords" — not very practical for marching and standing and marching and standing and marching and standing. But they're feet and legs looked great. And I suppose that's all that matters.

SENSIBLE SHOES! A PEAK AT A GROUP OF COSTALEROS.

22 comments:

  1. Little boys with hatchets lead the parade? What is the symbolism of that? There must be an interesting story behind it. Hope your banged-up leg is getting better.

    (By the way, today's Star Tribune has a feature article with interior pictures of the Pour House where Erin's appearing. It looks like quite an interesting place.)

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    1. Ms. Sparrow:
      I haven't been able to find anything on the axes. For all I know, it may not even be true... but I'll keep looking.

      We've seen Erin at a couple of places in The Cities, but not the Pour House. Wherever she is, it's worth a trip!

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    2. Hello Mitchell.
      Hope you're recovering well from your war wounds.
      I'll answer a few questions that I see that you have.
      The ax (Hachas o hachones) is a way of saying in spanish, a type of high candles, torches are also called.
      This group of children opening the procession, they are called, and formerly, Niños Carrancanos, came out in the beginning of all processions, used to be poor children who were sponsored by the brotherhoods, now only come in the Corpus. Her crown is believed to be metal to protect their heads from their large wax torches

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    3. Ah, SOONKS, yet again thank you so much for this helpful information! The "hatchet" info was simply someone doing a literal translation and not understanding what it really meant. I then repeated it! I'll update the blog to make note of my lesson from you!

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  2. Hello Mitch:
    What a spectacle this all is. We know that we should have been up with the lark and out in the streets too to see it all. As you say, the sheer passage of time over which this same procession has taken place fills one with a deep sense of continuity and a spirituality which is refreshing to witness these days which seem to be in constant flux.

    These are wonderful images and they have enabled us to share in some of the magic of this very special event.

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    1. J&L:
      This one was long and a bit slow-going for someone who didn't sleep much the night before, but I still really enjoyed it. I'd even consider paying for a seat next year (the second row, behind which I stood to take pictures, was only 7 euros).

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  3. I have a theory - there is insufficient storage for all of those relics and floats, so a certain percentage (fifty or so) has to be on the streets at any one time!

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    1. The Owl Wood:
      That's an interesting theory, especially since I haven't covered (or seen) every parade that goes on in town. I apparently miss something daily.

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  4. The longer I read your blog, the MORE I think we need to rent a place in Spain and LIVE there for a few months! Come'on now... 4" heels in a parade? All those angels and saints? All these parades and festivities? We really need to talk! I'm SO ready for all of that!!!

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    1. The Odd Essay:
      There were more dangerous-looking heels even than the ones pictured. I finally stopped shooting them because the man next to me was giving me odd looks. I think he was started to suspect I had a serious foot fetish.

      I keep saying this is an amazing place. And I think you'd really love nearby Doñana National Park.

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  5. Through your blog I have learned a lot about Spain; I wasn't aware how Catholic it is. I know that sounds funny, but I got the impression it was more secular than not. These Catholic parades and all - seems to be no lack of RC gusto!

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    1. Ur-spo:
      It's a very Catholic culture (especially in Sevilla and much of more-traditional Andalucía), but Spain does a better job (than the US) of separating Church and State when it comes to individual rights. Example: Despite the strong Catholic Church, same-sex couples have been able to legally marry here (with all equal rights and recognition) since 2005. Our Iowa marriage certificate is legal only in Iowa. However, it is legal in all of Spain. Even in Sevilla, which although a large city is very traditional and much more conservative than Madrid or Barcelona, we see same-sex couples everywhere making the same public displays as opposite-sex couples and receiving not a second glance or a raised eyebrow. Also, we've got friends who have nothing to do with any of the religious processions and simply roll their eyes. I wish my posts could give a more complete picture!

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  6. I love how the Spanish name their saints for cities in California. It's quite touching.

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  7. Walt the Fourth:
    I love that too! I think they tried naming for cities in New Jersey, but Saint Hoboken Saint East Orange just didn't have the same ring.

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    1. You guys are just too clever :))

      Seriously, though, same-sex marriage is fully legal in Spain, and has been since 2005? Amazing! I just never would have thought of that in Spain! All of this über religious atmosphere just wouldn't lead one to think that to be the case. Another good tidbit for my Spanish-I classes.

      (p.s. I did not realize that Corpus Christi was a holiday!)

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    2. Judith:
      Spain is a fascinating country. We were completely surprised by our research, which is one of the reasons we chose to live here. If you're interested, there's a really great book that helps one understand modern Spain. It's titled: "The New Spaniard."

      Corpus Christi is an official holiday in Southern Spain (Andalucîa); I don't know if it's a holiday anywhere else.

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  8. The people of Spain must be the fittest in Europe!
    Are the same people marching/walking in all these parades/processions? In other words is it similar there as in other locales that only a few do everything.
    Love those shoe shots!

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    1. Jim:
      The same brotherhoods are represented, but not everyone marches in every procession. I have friends who march in some and not in others. So, there's variety. I also have friends who only march when they knows there's a really good party at the end of the line. This is a city intended for walking and people do!

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  9. I am staggered by the number of processions in Seville. People must grow up watching all of them and move seamlessly into being part of them. This one looked especially appealing to me, though I'm not yet sure why.

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    1. Kristi:
      Do you suppose it was the ermine cape? Or maybe the IN-sensible shoes?

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  10. It almost seems as if Sevilla is perpetually in fiesta mode.

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    1. Will:
      It sure does seem that way. Lots of very hard workers but most people appreciate there's much more to life than just work.

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